The history of religion is one of those topics that tends to get short thrift in my survey courses. This is not for a lack of primary sources which actually I use quite a bit of throughout the year. My difficulty is in shaping those sources into coherent lesson plans. I spend quite a bit of time discussing the connection between government and religion when focused on the Constitutional Convention and Bill of Rights. I’ve found Jon Meacham’s American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation to be quite helpful. It does a good job of steering a middle course and students can easily read it. Of course, religious themes enter at other times.
The new issue of the OAH’s Magazine of History concentrates on the history of American Religion and it is clearly just what the doctor ordered. I’ve said before that if you teach American history on the high school level you should have a subscription to this publication. Each issue is structured around a specific theme and includes short summary articles written by very competent historians as well as lesson plans. This issue is edited by Phillip Guerty and includes short essays on religious diversity in antebellum America, new religious movements, and religious pluralism and globalization. The lesson plans are first rate and focus on the religious clause of the First Amendment as well as evangelicalism. I am very excited about one lesson plan in particular which provides ways to integrate Islam and Muslims into the survey course.